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Show your support

The Countryside Alliance has introduced a pro-hunting rubber wristband which is half red and half green and bears the message BAN THE BAN. They are available from CA stands at point-to-points and county shows throughout the country, on on their website at www.countryside-alliance.org for a voluntary donation of £10 for four.

Simon Hart says: “In recent months wrist bands have become increasingly popular as a cheap and highly visible way of supporting a cause, and we have already had a great response to our version.

“Not only are wearers sending a clear message of their determination to fight the Hunting Act, but on a practical level they are contributing financially to our legal challenges, helping our campaign where it is most needed. No supporter of hunting, whether young or old, should be without an Alliance wristband this year. Wear your wristband and show support for your sport.”

  • Click hear to read about initativies to raise funds to cover the legal costs of the “Westminster Eight”.

    Challenges and injunctions

    The Countryside Alliance-backed challenge to the Hunting Act on human rights grounds will be heard in the High Court the week of 4 July, alongside a case brought under EU law on free movement of goods and workers by nine people.

    The nine, which include an Irish horse dealer and breeder, a West Country hireling operator, a Belgian-based Viscount, plus Portuguese and German hunting enthusiasts, will say that their rights have been infringed in a disproportionate manner.

    A procedural hearing was held last week relating to the CA human rights challenge. Mr Justice Collins, sitting at the High Court, said their case, which is being handled by David Anderson QC, should be heard with that brought by UK campaigners.

    Anderson is seeking an order to quash the Hunting Act or a declaration that it is of no effect and should not be enforced.

    Read the full story >>

    Older news

    The Vote-OK campaign has been doing stirling work in the run up to the election, rallying support from hunt supporters across the country to help stuff envelopes; put up posters; pound the pavements, leafleting and canvassing. For more details about what you can do visit: www.vote-ok.co.uk

    The Countryside Alliance has launched a Cyber Protest against the Hunting Act. It is described as “an online demonstration designed to enable many thousands of people across the world to show their opposition to the state’s unwarranted interference into the lives of ordinary.” To sign up visit www.fightprejudice.org

    You can also help by donating to the CA’s Legal Challenge appeal, which will help cover the cost of the legal appeals. Visit www.countrysidealliance.org and follow the links.

    The Countryside Alliance has had a massive increase in membership since the hunting ban was announced. In all, more than 6,500 new memberships have been signed since September, with “memberships” including families and couples as well as individuals, so the real head count will be higher.

    The RSPCA has signed up three anti-hunting MPs — Ann Widdecombe, Ian Cawsey and Norman Baker — as vice-presidents. It has also appointed anti-hunting MEP Dr Caroline Lucas, bringing the number of vice-presidents to 20.

    Protests against the ban

  • Pro-hunting protesters attended the Labour Party Spring Conference in Gateshead, Newcastle upon Tyne, to demonstrate the resistance and anger that exists against the government for forcing the Hunting Act into law.
  • Hunt supporters surrounded the RSPCA’s HQ near Horsham with Fight the Ban placards on Christmas morning. The signs were not removed until late afternoon.
  • Record crowds of 300,000 flocked to Boxing Day meets — some 30,000 more than in 2003. Snow, sub-zero temperatures and icy roads did not deter the public from turning up in droves.
  • One London-based hunt supporter is fast becoming a legend at the H&H office because of the brilliant accounts he sends in about his exploits lecturing MPs. Finding time during his busy schedule, our friend — who wishes to remain anonymous — wanders into meetings involving ministers or anti-hunt MPs, as if he belongs there. He then politely makes his views known. Read more about this supporter’s exploits in H&H (30 December, ’04)
  • The Paralympic dressage team and support staff, wearing “keep hunting” badges, attended a reception hosted by Tony and Cherie Blair at Lords cricket ground to celebrate UK sporting achievements in Athens, and in support of the London 2012 bid. Performance manager and chef d’equipe in Athens David Hunter says some of the riders and staff wondered whether to boycott the event in protest.

    “In the end, we decided it would give us an opportunity to make a polite stand on the issue of hunting. We proudly wore our CA badges. We were introduced to Tony Blair and Tessa Jowell, neither of whom could fail to miss our support for hunting. It was polite and civilised, but we certainly got our point across.”

  • Young hunt supporters have been galvanising support at their schools. A 17-year-old girl at St Swithun’s, Winchester, organised a petition. “I collected 300 signatures — a majority of pupils,” she explains.
  • Meanwhile, at Eton’s St Andrew’s Day playing of The Wall Game, a 17-year-old pupil and his friends managed to cover the top of the wall with boys carrying “Fight Prejudice” banners.
  • A London schoolboy of 13 told Horse & Hound of his uphill battle to convince city-based schoolfriends that hunting is not cruel.

    “When I told my friends on Monday that I’d been hunting, they didn’t believe me at first. Several said it served me right that it was getting banned, but I did persuade one of them. Everyone had thought it was sweet I had ponies, but when they found out that the ponies’ favourite thing was a day out hunting, it shocked them.”

  • An online petition to support hunting has been signed by more than 19,000 people. See www.petitiononline.com/tallyh0/petition.html
  • Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael cancelled an engagement to address a Rural Social Enterprise Conference at Todmorden Town Hall, West Yorkshire on 24 November after more than 200 rural campaigners gathered at short notice to protest about the hunting ban.

    CA chief executive Simon Hart said: “This is about what we would have expected from Alun Michael, who has failed to show any consistency or integrity on the issue of hunting. It is a sorry state of affairs when a DEFRA minister avoids the countryside because he cannot face up to his responsibilities. There can never have been a Rural Affairs Minister who is more out of touch with rural Britain“.

  • Members of the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America (MFHA USA) gathered in Lafeyette Square and then at the White House in Washington last Friday to welcome Tony Blair, who went to visit the newly re-elected President Bush. MFHA USA was keen to remind Mr Blair of its concerns over the hunting Bill, as well as to show its support of the British hunting community and its opposition to a ban.
  • Over 1000 people took part in the fifth and final cabinet picket last Thursday, which coincided with Armistice Day. The picket was suspended during the service, with the two minute silence immaculately observed by the group, who proudly wore their poppies in rememberance of those who laid down their lives for their country.
  • About 700 supporters gathered on 5 November at Melton Mowbray airfield for a symbolic burning of the Hunting Bill. Huntsmen blew Gone Away as the bonfire was lit.
  • When Alistair Darling tried to dodge protestors in Birmingham recently, he is said to have driven the wrong way along “at least three” one-way streets. “Not very appropriate for the minister of transport…” says a CA spokesman.
  • Rob Williams, 29, who hunts with the Tiverton Staghounds, rode to Buckingham Palace to give a letter to The Queen. He set out in mid-October on his hunter, Dakkers.
    Williams says: “I set off without an itinerary, unannounced. My letter reflected the support I received on the way. I was treated like a king, and Dakkers was fatter by the end than when we began.”

  • In Grimsby, DEFRA secretary of state Margaret Beckett told demonstrators that she never wanted a ban and admitted that backbenchers were motivated by prejudice.
  • Two of John Prescott’s constituents who follow the Holderness, Kevin and Josie Jackson, spent 20min with him at his weekly surgery. Kevin says: “We asked him if he had followed a hunt and he said he had no need to because he had seen photographs.”
  • Leader of the Commons Peter Hain gave the lie to his alleged desire for dialogue with hunt supporters by ignoring a group in Wales. They wondered why, despite his recent requests asking hunt supporters to “make the case”, he was not enabling them to do so.
  • More than 50 people have signed up to work as campaign volunteers for pro-hunting Conservative Graham Stuart, to ensure that the narrowly held seat of the Beverley and Holderness constituency does not fall to Labour.
  • National newcomers week (9-16 October) attracted 5,000 people to hunting for the first time — 2,000 more than last year. Record turnouts were reported from the 149 hunts that took part in the initiative.
  • Have you been to see an anti-hunting MP, picketed a minister or talked your way into an official gathering to protest? Let us know how you have been keeping up the pressure, e-mail: abi_butcher@ipcmedia.com

    WHAT YOU CAN DO

    • If you hear that a minister is due to visit your area, contact the CA Action Office
    • Keep in touch with your CA regional director and hunt campaigner for details of local action
    • Use and distribute car stickers, correx boards and posters. Order them via the CA website or from the action office
    • Lobby the House of Lords. See the website or contact your regional director for your county allocation of peers
    • Keep in touch with your local hunt to find out about the role you can play in the political process as we approach the next general election
    • For further details (tel: 01367 850488) or e-mail actionoffice@countryside-alliance.org (www.countryside-alliance.org)
    • Write to the Prime Minister (Rt Hon Tony Blair MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA or Myrobella, Farfield Terrace, Trimdon Colliery, Co Durham) and copying a national paper such as The Sun (Dear Sun, The Sun, 1 Virginia St, London E98 1SL; letters@the-sun.co.uk).
    • Lobby cabinet ministers whenever they are in your region. The CA says that this is one of the single most essential activities.
    • Contact your local Chief Constable to fix a visit to discuss enforcement and relationships with the rural community. Remember to ask him or her about using CCTV to catch people hunting!